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Comparing Korean Forced Labor on Hashima to the U.S.’s Internment of Japanese-Americans

By Izzy Kim, VI Form


Comparing Korean Forced Labor on Hashima to the U.S.’s Internment of Japanese-Americans

Soon after the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry, Japan underwent a major industrial revolution. The new Meiji government altered political, cultural, and educational sectors of Japan and even drafted a new constitution to embrace westernization. The rapidly westernizing Japan expanded its sphere of influence in Asia and overpowered China which did not adopt western ideals and technologies. Although the road to Japanese Imperialism in the 1930s to its grand wartime strategies in 1945 are certainly notable, Japan had a blank check in committing unspeakable atrocities during this period. The history of modern slavery and comfort women in Hashima, one of the most crucial industrialization sites of the Imperial Japan, is the very embodiment of the abominable and often ignored history behind Japan’s rise to power.

The example of forced labor of Koreans on Hashima can be compared to U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans since in both cases, a foreign group was suppressed during wartime to ensure security of the “stronger” nation. However, how Japan and the U.S. reacted to their historical atrocities is vastly different. America later acknowledged how they infringed upon the rights of Japanese-Americans with an executive order and apologized, while Japan chose to ignore the existence of Korean forced laborers on the island during World War II. In fact, Japan went as so far as to acquire a UNESCO World Heritage Site status for Hashima in 2015 in a decade-long struggle to register the island as a momentous site of industrial revolution. UNESCO’s decision to grant the island a World Heritage Site status faced many controversies leading to the production of the 2017 Korean film The Battleship Island. (more…)

Connection By Pride: JeJu Island to St. Mark’s Exchange

By Kasey Kim, IV Form Exchange Student from Korea International School (KIS)

Connection By Pride: JeJu Island to St. Mark’s Exchange

When I first told my parents that I was going to apply for the St. Mark’s exchange students program, they initially came up with concerns: “Will you be able to handle everything?” and “Won’t it be hard for you to follow up all the missing work after you come back?” This program is a month long trip, and my home-school, Korea International School Jeju (KIS), just started their second quarter. We do have to make up nine tests and two projects after we return back to Jeju, and our new friends here at St. Mark’s have been demonstrating similar reactions to my parents: “That is so unfair!” and “Do your teachers really want you to have cultural exchange here.” The extreme follow up work is the reason why most students at KIS give up on this opportunity – but I was never more confident or ardent of anything else before. I cannot identify myself only as a student with high GPAs and successful academics. Now, here I am in Southborough, meeting amazing new people and experiencing new things that I had been only watching on Nickelodeon and Disney channel shows. (more…)

Biracial Me: Life as an “Other”

By Sophie Haugen, IV Form

Biracial Me: Life as an “Other”

As I walk through school, talk to people, and go through normal, day-to-day activities, I don’t feel as though I have a large sign pinned to my forehead that reads “Biracial.” When I wake up in the morning, it is not the first thought that crosses my mind. In fact, I don’t think about being biracial very often, and I don’t feel biracial most of the time, unless someone or something makes me aware of it.

Something that is an aspect of being biracial is having to choose. In my case, my mom was born in Korea and moved to America when she was young. My dad is 100% Norwegian, but has lived in America for his
entire life. I have been asked if I feel more Korean than Norwegian and vice versa, but in reality I don’t feel (more…)